The Top 9 Benefits Of Mindfulness
If I say mindfulness do you say new age craziness?
I hope not! Because mindfulness is a powerful tool to have in your toolbox especially if you’re stressed out and overwhelmed. Mindfulness is the perfect antidote to the stress and anxiety that many of us feel each day.
But mindfulness goes far beyond “paying attention” to the things that are going on around you. It can be instrumental in helping you to improve yourself and your quality of life in many ways. Although it’s called mindfulness, it has a positive effect on your body and relationships as well. Read on for 9 different ways that mindfulness can help you to manage your stress before your stress manages you.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a practice in which you maintain a state of being fully aware of a specific moment while you’re in that moment and maintaining that awareness.
Everything that you’re thinking, seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling – experiencing. Taking it all in and being at peace with it.
Mindfulness.org defines it as: “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
There are many ways paths to mindfulness; meditation, deep breathing, returning your awareness back to what you’re doing as you engage in activities and guided awareness to name a few.
Mindfulness is about being fully present and teaches us how to exist in the moment. This minute that you’re in right now is all that matters. It makes a great companion to deep breathing. You breathe in the calm and out the stress. Engaging in mindfulness helps us to go beyond and rise above stressful thoughts and feelings.
Laser Beam Focus
To be mindful means that you have intense focus and mental discipline, which nowadays can be really difficult due to all of the distractions in our everyday life. Technology is wonderful but being able to access information or entertainment in seconds in my opinion has lessened our patience overall and our ability to just be without all the bells, whistles, beeps and bings.
Help With Panic Attacks
Mindfulness is one of the stress reduction treatments given to individuals who suffer with panic attacks and scientists continue to study the effects that mindfulness has on panic attacks.
Mindfulness helps the person who’s having the panic attack bring their attention to the feelings that they’re experiencing in the body and in the mind. Being mindful about the feelings means not judging those feelings and breathing through the pain.
Breathing through the pain is the practice of mindful breathing which is described thoroughly in an article on mindful.org. Mindful breathing is otherwise known as belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing and helps you to regulate your breath so that you can relax.
Combat Those Negative Emotions
In general, you can use mindfulness to help you process any negative emotions that you’re experiencing and to help you think through why you might be feeling a particular way about a situation.
Questions to consider:
What about this situation is upsetting to me at this moment?
What is another way I might think about this situation?
What can I do in this moment to feel better about this situation?
Let Your Inner Athlete Shine
Mindfulness is only one step away from being a ‘flow state’. What’s a flow state you might be asking? Flow is a heightened state of awareness and presence that can lead to amazing improvements in athletic performance.
"Mindfulness is being completely immersed in an activity." Psychology Today
Psychology Today defines mindfulness as “a cognitive state where one is completely immersed in an activity. It involves intense focus, creative engagement, and the loss of awareness of the self.”
You don’t have to be some kind of super athlete to take advantage of a flow state. When you’re engaging in physical activity that you enjoy whether it’s running or Zumba – when you hit the sweet spot, it’s as if time has no meaning because you’re so thoroughly engrossed in what it is that you’re doing. Your serotonin levels are high and it’s a feeling of pure joy. Mindfulness allows you to access that flow state.
It Helps Sleep
Sleep is an important component of any stress management routine. We all need sleep as it allows our bodies the chance to rejuvenate, repair and restore. Studies show that mindfulness can be used effectively to combat sleep disturbances. Mindfulness can be used as a prelude to meditation and as such can help you achieve the proper mindset to relax and sleep.
Social Benefits/Relational Benefits
Enrich Your Life
Being mindful means being present and enjoying the specific moment that you’re in. Which in turn means being aware of what’s happening around you at any given point in time. Instead of being in your own head, all the time, mindfulness encourages you to start experiencing the world around you.
For example, several years ago, a friend and I went on a mini vacation to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We went to a parade and while I was watching the parade, taking periodic pictures and trying not to get hit in the head while catching beads; my friend spent the entire time on her phone. She was looking at the internet, texting people and doing everything else but being in the moment.
The immediate consequence was that her phone died quickly and in the long run once we were back, she didn’t really have a lot of memories of the trip because she spent some much time on the phone. I on the other hand have very vivid memories. Because I was in the moment.
As you become more mindful one of the great joys that you’ll experience is learning about yourself. Being able to ‘observe’ your own mind is amazing! You’ll learn more about how your brain functions. Knowing yourself is one of the ways that you grow and develop.
Another benefit of mindfulness is that as you’re becoming more attuned to yourself, you’re becoming more attuned to the minds of those in your life as well. And being in sync with those around you means that your relationships become stronger because you’ll understand if a loved one is having a bad day whether or not this is the time to give them space or the time to just be there for them.
It’s Free And Easy
Health organizations love mindfulness because it’s something anyone can practice. Once you understand the concept and have the basics down, you’ll see that mindfulness is something you can do anywhere at any time with no equipment – just your mind!
So there you have it! Nine ways in which mindfulness can enrich your life plus a bonus way to boot! As with anything, it may seem awkward at first, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes. It’s all about making time.
Let’s talk, what benefits have you noticed since starting your mindfulness practice? Let me know in the comments section.
Sleepy puppy photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In